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Staff Favorites - John Majeski
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2011 Chalone Vineyard Monterey County Pinot Noir
Review Date: 12-6-2013
2010 Dunn Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 11-19-2013
For the 2010 Napa Valley vintage, the confluence of a long, cool growing season for most of the summer and a late, rather merciless heatwave contributed to many sensuous wines of harmonious brilliance, textural sophistication and great depth. The Dunn Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is an uncompromising, serious contender, capable of developing for perhaps two decades, but with the luxurious richness of the deep blackcurrant, brambly and mineral-laden fruit, beautifully finessed by suave, lavish tannins, you don't have to wait very long to enjoy it. Consider it a Dunn deal!
2011 Louis M. Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 11-11-2013
It's been a long, hard Tuesday at the salt mine, nano factory, dog walk or tweet shop and you're feeling about as colorless and washed-out as the synthetic walls of your um, cubicle, so you grab a fresh, sizzling hot pie on the way home, finally get there and open a bottle of red wine. Again, you don't need a fancy, fifty dollar label to impress yourself, just something reliable and tasty enough to work with the pepperoni and shrooms. At only twelve bucks, this delicious Cabernet from the venerable Louis Martini winery fits the bill, delivering just enough substance, smoothness and focused, berry-scented flavors to satisfy the palate and make you actually look forward to another day at the nano factory...
2010 Chalone "Limited Release" Chalone Chardonnay
Review Date: 9-25-2013
When the opportunity presents itself to latch on to a famous estate label at a rock-bottom, crowd-pleasing price we rarely hesitate. Which means of course, your gain, no pain! The 2010 growing season was exceptionally cool in Monterey County, allowing for longer hang time, lower sugar levels and measurable acidity that contributed to graceful, more elegant fruit. Originally intended exclusively for restaurants, this surprisingly sumptuous Chardonnay delivers enticing flavors of white pear, green apple, crème brûlée,and lemon curd with a whiff of pineapple on the supple, round, satisfying finish. Perfect for late summer parties and entertaining as the long, generous daylight draws to an end.
2007 Korbin Kameron "Estate" Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 8-13-2013
The Korbin Kameron estate vineyards straddle the steep Mayacamas range at 2300' between Napa and Sonoma, with much of its vines planted on ancient gravelly loam, allowing for excellent drainage and low-yields. Rigorous organic and biodynamic principles employed by veteran viticulturalist Phil Coturri ensure that the vineyards maintain optimal health, producing vibrant, concentrated fruit. Result? A poised, aromatic wine of focus and depth, imbued with attractive notes of blackberries, currants, vanilla, wet earth and spice. Polished, refined tannins accentuate the balance and restraint found in this soulful, well-crafted wine.
2011 B Side Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 8-4-2013
With grapes sourced from the eastern edge of the Napa Valley, characterized by volcanic soils and lower yields, the B Side Cabernet Sauvignon is an immodestly fruit-friendly cavalcade of flavors, showcasing ripe blackberry, shaved chocolate, and dancing plums on the palate, with agreeably smooth tannins. Yes, I said 'dancing plums', because this luscious wine is an uninhibited, flirtatious performer, sure to please those who enjoy the plush, more extravagant richness of Napa Valley's offerings without the high price.
Ariston Aspasie "Carte Blanche" Brut Champagne
Review Date: 8-2-2013
Vines have been cultivated on this tiny property in the hamlet of Brouillet for five generations, and it has remained a customer and staff favorite here for several years. Yeasty, full and complex, the Carte Blanche exhibits a fine intensely-focused bead with lively notes of tart apples, dried hazelnuts, vanilla and toast, all in all a remarkably well-built Brut that will compare well to cuvées at double the price. It is perfect for entertaining.
2010 Tamarack Cellars Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 7-29-2013
The atypical 2010 vintage was one of the coolest in recent memory in Washington state, delivering an inordinately mild summer and autumn that allowed the fruit to hang cool, reaching the perfect state of grace between alcohol levels, PH and acidity. In other words, the makings of a terrific vintage and truly elegant bottle of wine. Tamarack Cellars purchased grapes for this Cabernet cuvee from six renowned vineyards throughout the state and separated individual lots for at least a year before blending and aging in partially new French oak for two years. A lot of effort for under thirty bucks per bottle, but the reward? Intense, aromatic fruit and alluring flavors of black currant, bitter cherry, balsamic and boysenberry penetrate the palate, ballasted by a pleasing spine of fine acidity and elegant, evolving tannins, all harmonious components for a fine future. A superbly-wrought wine, highly recommended.
2011 Bench Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Review Date: 7-8-2013
As your eyes graze on the zillions of domestic Cabernet Sauvignons online or in our stores, be sure to give them a sitdown at the nearest bench, or should I say 'Bench', specifically the remarkable 2011 version of this robust, well-constructed Cab from the folks at Brack Mountain. Selected from low-yielding prime Alexander Valley benchland fruit, this rich, purple-hued wine resonates from the glass with bright cherry and blackberry aromatics, rousing the palate with a pronounced core of chewy, lustrous, black currants, seductive spice and cedar notes, all bracketed by firm acidity and serious, mouth-watering tannins. And consider this: you can enjoy all of this for less than a third the price of those neighboring seventy-five dollar Cabs in the weighty bottles and cool labels. Kinda like wise thrift shopping, right?
2009 Hewitson "Old Garden" Mourvedre Barossa Valley South Australia
Review Date: 6-23-2013
These unirrigated Barossa Valley bush vines planted in deep sandy soils over limestone 160 years ago continue to produce illustrious clusters of complex, beautifully-concentrated fruit quite unlike any other expressions of Mourvedre in the world. Well-knit, warmth-inducing flavors of cherry, cloves, orange spice and rich chocolate permeate the palate, ballasted by the smoothest, most pliant tannins I've ever encountered in a Barossa wine. This iconic wine is a tribute to the brilliant folks at Hewitson who admirably nurture the ancient legacy vines that produce this memorable wine. Aptly named, it is truly a garden of earthly delights. Highly recommended.
2009 Domaine Girard "Tradition" Côtes de Malepère
Review Date: 3-22-2013
If you ever get the opportunity to visit the magnificent double-walled 'medieval' citadel of Carcassonne in Languedoc-Roussillon, with many battlements dating back to the fifth century (but largely restored in the nineteenth), you will appreciate the long, historic struggle of man to erect a civilizing fortress of monumentally enduring proportions. Fortunately the gracious grape has survived and thrived in the region even longer, most likely first brought to the area by Roman soldiers. Domaine Girard, in the little-known AOC Malepère, currently produces wines that bridge the stylistic attributes of elegant Bordeaux and robust Languedoc, delivering fleshy, full-bodied, hand-harvested fruit made from 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc. Fermented and matured entirely in stainless steel to preserve the pure varietal character, this supple, generous red will complement most traditional dishes from herb-scented lamb to a hearty beef casserole.
2008 Keenan Napa Valley Merlot
Review Date: 3-22-2013
This wine is an invitation to linger and luxuriate in the odalisque opulence of Merlot, and given Keenan's amazing ability to caress and coax every velvety nuance from both its well-exposed Spring Mountain estate vines and lush, attractive Carneros fruit, you would do well to lay down a few bottles in your cellar for enjoyment over the next decade. Easily one of the finest domestic Merlots tasted this year, it exhibits expansive notes of ripe blackberries, dark cocoa, espresso bean and cassis.
2001 Marques de Legarda Gran Reserva Rioja
Review Date: 12-31-2012
Superb aged Gran Reserva, especially from the much-heralded 2001 vintage, is hard to find, and the Legarda exhibits the textbook definition of a midlife without crisis. Beautiful wild strawberries, dried cherries, orange peel, tobacco, dust and leather emanate from this excellent Rioja. Ideal pairings would include roasted lamb shanks or a Morrocan chicken tagine.
2009 Barber Cellars "Lo Scuro" Sonoma County Red Blend
Review Date: 12-31-2012
Credit given where it is earned, and Barber Cellars continues to fashion superlative, challenging red blends from select sites throughout northern California. This bottle is infused with captivating, distinctive flavors of blackberry, red currants, espresso, dried leaves, and savory pomegranate, delivering wonderful complexity with graceful acidity. Try it with your favorite lasagna dish, you will be richly rewarded.
2011 Domaine Mirabau Côtes du Roussillon
Review Date: 11-30-2012
As the southernmost wine-growing area in France, the sun-drenched Côtes du Roussillon has been cultivating wines since the 7th century BC, so they probably have gotten the vine thing down by now. Apart from the opulently seductive Vin Doux Naturels for which the region is largely renowned, there are an abundance of delicious, deftly-made, easy-drinking wines that demand only to be opened and enjoyed for their supple freshness and appealing fruit. Rounded and soft, with well-enveloped tannins that do not inhibit the delightful flavors of dark cherry and warm spice, this pleasure-driven red wine is a perfect complement to any Mediterranean cuisine.
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